Squashing your ANTs – (Automatic Negative Thoughts)







In my last two blogs, I talked about how I have struggled with self-esteem issues, and what I have done to increase my self-esteem. I don’t feel I have fully arrived, but I have come a long way. Today, I put on my counselor hat, and share a counseling technique called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I recently read a great blog by Amy Clover founder of Strong Inside Out where she gives a cute twist to this, that she calls Squashing Your ANTs. Here is the original blog. 

Squashing Your ANTs

You deserve love from those around you AND FROM YOURSELF. The love starts here, friends, with you. We need to nip this in the bud and get you in a space that allows for the strength to move forward with your extraordinary life. Your ANTs are keeping you from exactly that.

Now, I don’t advocate killing things (I’m one of those hippies that puts bugs outside), but our

Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) deserve to be discarded never to be heard from again. Tweet This

Let’s squash these strength-suckers, shall we? Let’s instill positive reactions that will serve us as we create the lives we want.

Here is my rendition of the exercise I did to squash my ANTs that you may be able to use to move forward stronger

[A special note to those in a very dark place right now: do this exercise only under the supervision of a mental health professional, and skip it if he/she thinks it’s not the best idea for you right now. This exercise is not the best to do when you are feeling extremely low]

  1. What’s the trigger?

What happened that caused this shift in your emotions and physicality?

  1. What’s happening in your body?

What are you physically experiencing? Tightness, burning, aching, etc? Where?

  1. What thoughts are you having?

These are your Automatic Negative Thoughts. Write out what you are actually saying to yourself.

  1. Where do these thoughts come from?

Are you repeating to yourself what you have heard from someone else? Do you have a fear ingrained in you that is rooted in your past? Try tracking your thinking back to when you first started to say these kinds of things to yourself.

  1. What evidence do I have to support these thoughts?

List both evidence for and against your thoughts. Is this thought true for me today? If you need an outside eye, ask someone who you trust, who supports you and truly wants the best for you.

  1. How will thinking like this serve me or harm me in the long-term?

True or not, ask yourself whether beating yourself up like this will get you anywhere at all. What does it do? Motivate you to change? More than positive encouragement would? Has it worked up to this point? How does it affect your life, thinking like this all the time? How will it get better or worse if you hold onto these thinking patterns?

Choose One ANT to Attack at a Time, Then Take These Steps:

  1. What is a positive, encouraging thought that you can start replacing this negative one with?

This can be an affirmation or a mantra that provides motivation. Encourage a healthy, positive mindset here.

Every time you start having these automatic negative thoughts, remind yourself of the fact that thinking like this won’t get you anywhere. Bring up this positive, encouraging thought to replace that negative one with.

  1. What can I do proactively to nourish this strong side of me? What positive actions can I take to strengthen these new thoughts?

Make a list right now of proactive things you can do to break the cycle of negative thinking. Here are some ideas:

  • Pat yourself on the back with what you’ve accomplished; write down everything you’re proud of accomplishing.
  • List out what you’re grateful for.
  • Take a walk outside to connect with nature.
  • Do what you’re beating yourself up for not doing.
  • Encourage rest when you need it. Remind yourself that you can’t do everything all the time; balance is a good thing!

When these thoughts come up, much of our anxiety and fear come from focusing on what we can’t control. There is (literally) no use in doing that. You won’t solve it by worrying because you can’t control it.

I love Amy’s suggestions. I don’t always put them into practice in my own life, but hey, we are all works in progress!

When I doubt my own worth, I remember that I have infinite worth in God’s eyes. In Matthew 10:29-31, Jesus tells us:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Question: Do you have Automatic Negative Thoughts that rob you of feelings of self-worth? What will you do to squash these bugs?

I pray you will begin squashing these bugs and will let go of negative beliefs about yourself. May God bless you,



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